A Letter from BevNET CEO John Craven: Moving From 2020 to 2021, With Gratitude

The year 2020 was challenging in ways that few of us could possibly have anticipated. We have seen food and beverage industry members face a global pandemic that upended worker safety, the supply chain, retailing and distribution networks. The ongoing lockdowns have tested endurance and resources, but have pushed us all to find creative ways to survive and evolve.

While BevNET, NOSH and Brewbound were spared some of the struggles specific to producers and suppliers, we were also forced to evolve. As the country shut down it became apparent that many of the core elements of our business, namely our summer and winter events, would have to be postponed and, eventually, cancelled. Like many of your own businesses, we needed to pivot: we have shifted to a paid subscription model while rolling out new forms of content: virtual conferences, online networking opportunities, new video series and special interviews and podcasts.

It wasn’t always easy, but, like many of you, we’ve emerged months later an organization that is even more committed in its coverage of the entrepreneurs, investors, retailers, suppliers and thinkers that make up the fabric of this industry. In some ways, while last year left us physically farther apart, it also brought us closer to our readers, viewers, and community, and for that we are thankful.

You’ve not only continued to let us join you in your (home) offices, sharing your successes and struggles, but last year you also supported our reporting and education efforts by subscribing to our publications, enabling us to continue to share the stories and lessons of this industry. You’ve also generously taken time to give to each other, understanding that a stronger food system benefits all. From the experts who have taken time to provide words of advice for fellow entrepreneurs through our Office Hours, Category Close-Up, Taste Radio, Frontlines, Market Share and other programs, to the investors and investment advisors, designers, retailers and brokers who have spoken with brands via Speed Dating, to the founders and executives who have spoken with our editorial teams, you’ve supported us — and each other — through these tough times.

And we’re all just getting started.

With the start of vaccination programs, we’re all hopeful that in the months to come we’ll once again be able to come together to meet face to face. But in the meantime, we will continue to tell the stories of food and beverage innovation, leadership, decision-making, investments, new products and, yes, turmoil (though hopefully a little less in the upcoming year) through video and written content, events and networking. Above all else, over the course of the year we want to hear how we can continue to support you and your businesses, providing you with the news, knowledge and connections to grow.

We also have learned and listened to the events of last summer, further understanding how much work there still needs to be done to level the field of opportunity in America and within the industry. We promise to continue championing a more equitable food system and equal opportunity in both the food business and in our coverage of that business. It’s not always an easy conversation to have, but it’s one we will keep at the fore, first through listening and learning, and then through acting.

Which brings us to perhaps the greatest lesson we learned in 2020: When in doubt, don’t stop, just keep moving. Bite by bite, keep at it, pushing your businesses and the industry forward. It likely won’t always be the perfect recipe, but just keep at it. When I think back to the past year, it’s that momentum and movement — the refusal to rest — that has motivated not only the entire BevNET team, but also what I believe has motivated the leaders of our industry.

Even after a hard year, I feel extremely lucky at the outset of the new one, knowing how much we’ve seen together, and how much we still have to see.

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